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Everyone has a LED strip stuck behind their tv cabinet or mirror these days. Even in the professional world of lighting, used in practically every project there’s at least one LED strip being used. However, there’s very big gap in quality and not all strips are equal. The principle of ‘you get what you pay for’ also applies to LED strips.

LED strips differ not only in quality, but also in function. On the one hand you have strips that will output a lot of light (intended for functional lighting). On the other hand, there are strips which are purely intended for decorative or accent lighting. These have a much lower power draw and light output.

The higher the power draw, the higher the light output, but that’s not the only thing that rises. There’s also going to be a lot more heat that is being generated. LED chips are at their best when the temperature stays below 70 degrees Celsius. That’s why it’s important for strips to be mounted to a flat surface or in an aluminum profile that can properly dissipate the heat. Without a proper cooling solution, you will notice a rapid decline in the light output of the LED strip or even severe color shifts away from the desired color.

Not every LED strip is suited for every situation, despite what many people think. There are different degrees of protection that indicate the environmental factors they can withstand, ranging from IP20 for a dry environment to IP54 for humid environments, and up to IP65 or IP68 for places where a strip comes into contact with water or other wet substances, such as in a bathroom or bar.

A common misconception is that an LED strip with an IP degree of protection of 44 or higher is automatically suited for outdoor use. Outside, a strip does have to be able to withstand humid conditions, but that’s not the whole story. On top of that there’s UV radiation from the sunlight to think about, as well as particle pollution that can adhere to the strip. And what about the larger shifts in temperature. All these factors affect the functionality and lifespan of an LED strip.

LED strips for outdoor use have to be of a higher quality, which naturally makes them more expensive as well. We at UNLUMITED always recommend going for strips with a special hydrophobic protective layer, or with a full silicone coating. View our full range of CLEAR contour lighting for more information and examples of our products.

Looking for advice on which LED strips are best suited foryour project? Feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We’re always happy to help.

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